Adoption’s Doors


 The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round,
round and round, all … day … long.

The doors on the bus go open and shut, open and shut,
open and shut, all … day … long.

Since Maeve was about a year old, her love of music and her animated participation in singing this, or any song for that matter, has made for delightful moments. Since music is a constant in our home, she’s becoming accustomed to its myriad forms, including children’s sing-a-longs, classical, rock, folk, blues, jazz and reggae.

Wheels on the Bus is on the set list for our morning carride cabaret. And whether it’s the bus driver’s order to “move on back” or horns going “beep, beep, beep,” her chunky little hands and sweet segmented baby arms are in full musical orchestration from her carseat podium in the backseat.

Recently, her favorite stanza details the bus doors that “open and shut, open and shut,” while her arms stretch to their widest limits, then quickly, and with as much force as she can muster, her hands slap together — clap — with precision.

Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

On this morning, though, those words rattled in my mind long after the song’s end. Not just as juvenile lyrics about mass transportation, but as concepts, as realities.

Both are realities in adoption; both are realities in my world:

After all, I am mother to an 18-month-old girl in an open adoption.

I am wife to a man whose adoption remains tightly shut by the laws in his Ohio birthstate.

A stark contrast between the two, to be sure:


I have never set eyes on the woman who brought my husband into the world.

Not only have I met the woman that brought my daughter into the world,
I have hugged her — long and hard.


I have never heard my husband’s birth mother speak.
I know not whether his voice and its intonations echo hers.

Not only have I heard the voice of my daughter’s birth mother, we’ve spoken —
sharing conversations, sentiments, moments.


When I gaze into my husband’s distinct eyes
or admire the dark, loose curls upon his head,
I have no point of reference from which to travel, branch-to-branch,
along a family tree of physical attributes.

Yet I can trace the rosy hue and heart-shaped curves of my daughter’s lips,
even the contour of her jaw and chin, directly to her birth mother’s siblings.
Because we met them and I saw the similarities for myself.
And on that warm summer day, we sat, on a blanket in a park
and played with the baby that connects us all.


In a moment of medical crisis, there would be no family history on which
my husband could rely. No way to shed light in a time of darkness. 

Yet, for our daughter, there are forms completed by her birth mother
that reference three generations of medical matters. More than that,
if our daughter’s health were in peril, her birth mother could be reached.


Based on decades-old recollection from my husband’s adoptive family,
two possible names for his birth mother and one for the hospital
are scrawled on a sheet of looseleaf paper.
Although agency records cite such specifics, they are black-lined to him.

I don’t rely on recollection for fundamental facts about my daughter’s story.
Her birth mother’s name is Known. Written. Spoken.
Photographs of her birth mother are in our home, within our daughter’s grasp.
The hospital where our daughter took her first breath? We were called to it.


For my husband, there are questions that remain unanswered.

For my daughter, there are stories to share, memories to make,
friendships to forge, milestones to mark.


Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.



Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Family, Husbands, Love, Maeve, Making a difference, Music, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises, Relationships

14 responses to “Adoption’s Doors

  1. I read this and thought, man, this is an essay you should send somewhere only I’m not sure where. (Essays are a notorious hard sell.) But I loved it and was very moved by it. Thank you.

  2. Adoptive families magazine perhaps?

    Very nice post.

  3. This is beautiful, Gretchen. Just beautiful.

  4. Pingback: Open Vs. Closed Adoption Records . . . « Just Enjoy Him: Ramblings of a Mid-Life Mom

  5. This is beautiful. Thank you for posting this.

  6. Hi, Gretchen, I’m new to your blog, found you from Judy’s. What an incredible post – this is definitely one to submit for publication, also one to share. I hope it’s OK to add you to my blogroll, and to give you a shoutout.

  7. Thank you all for your kind words — It’s particularly important to me, touching even, on a topic so near and dear to me and from people I so admire. And blogroll adds, shout-outs — ah, the more the merrier I say.

  8. Loved this post. As an adoptee, I wish more prospective APs realized how much gain we all that are touched by adoption could get in an open adoption!

  9. Beautiful post.
    Glad I found you through the blogosphere!!

  10. Hey; I’m using this for Fresh Outlook Friday this week. I somehow missed it when you wrote it. (Possibly because the past two weeks have been… well, they’ve just “been.”) It will be up shortly on the birth/first parent blog.

  11. Pingback: Courting adoption « musings:mamahood&more

  12. This was a touching and accurate depiction if ever there was one. Thank you.

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